For almost 50 years, visiting faculty members in Visual and Environmental Studies have joined the department on a temporary basis to share their experiences with students. This year, the VES Visiting Faculty exhibition displays the work of Judith Belzer, Ken Okiishi, Elle Pérez, and Richard Renaldi. The exhibition successfully brings together a diverse selection of two-dimensional visual art.
Judith Belzer’s work, strikingly colorful and purposefully abstract, forms the first part of the exhibition. The seven square panels maintain a similar color scheme, yet differ in vibrancy, forming a gradient from bright to subdued, then lighting up again. Sharper and thicker strokes defines pieces with rich hues, while blurrier marks that outline obscure shapes blend the dimmer pieces. Her pieces are distinct from the other artists, standing out as the only oil paintings.
Where Belzer’s work is exciting and colorful, Elle Pérez’s archival pigment prints are quietly erotic and lonely. Each piece focuses on one character or subject, such as a ratty shirt in “Binder” (2015). Eroticism is suggested by the nakedness of the subjects or by mages like disheveled sheets. They achieve a sort of raw loneliness through the focus on a singular subject, mostly using a black-and-white filter.
The archival pigment print form also appears in Richard Renaldi’s work, which elegantly displays the grittiness of New York. Consistent use of black and white gives his images a visual unity. The figures in his art range from a same-sex couple in “I HEART NY” t-shirts, to a man with face tattoos wearing sunglasses, to a scantily clad woman climbing up a staircase. All the scenes contain skyscrapers and street intersections that are characteristic of cities. Renaldi’s photos successfully showcase the quirks and diversity of an urban environment through the camera lens.
Ken Okiishi’s art invokes simple messages with technological props, comprised of: television screens covered in paint. Sometimes images play on the screens: crowds of moving people or fuzzy white static. “Being and/or Time, 2013-2016” is a 17-minute-long HD video that flashes social media texts, airplane tickets, celebrity figures, and newspaper articles in a seemingly never-ending slideshow.
Overall, the exhibition displays a variety of artistic expression and media, as well as diversity within the pieces. The placement and proximity of the works to one another creates an intense viewing experience, making the Carpenter Center’s first exhibition of the school year definitely worth seeing.
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